Jun 25, 2020 (Baystreet.ca via COMTEX) -- More layoffs are hitting Canada's airline industry as border closures and travel restrictions remain in place.
WestJet Airlines Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205458593/delayed UK:WJA 0.00% announced that it is laying off 3,333 staff in an effort to streamline its business amid the ongoing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. WestJet said the layoffs will impact the company's call centre staff as well as its office and management workers.
WestJet also said it will contract out its domestic airport operations except for Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto.
"Today's announcement regarding these strategic but unavoidable changes will allow us to provide security to our remaining 10,000 WestJetters, and to carry on the work of transforming our business," said Ed Sims, WestJet's Chief Executive Officer, in a news release. ?
Since the pandemic outbreak, WestJet has laid off thousands of staff amid a 90% plunge in passenger traffic. The Calgary-based airline announced in March that it would lay off 6,900 staff, although the federal wage subsidy program brought most of that staff back to work. WestJet later said it would lay off 1,700 pilots while moving 3,000 other employees to its inactive workforce in May.
Meanwhile, Air Canada (T.AC) laid off between 50% and 60% of its workforce -- about 20,000 people -- in May due to what the company called a sustained decline in passenger traffic. Porter Airlines said it temporarily laid off the majority of its 1,500-person workforce in March. Transat A.T. /zigman2/quotes/208135931/delayed CA:TRZ -0.94% and Sunwing Airlines Inc. have also announced substantial workforce reductions in recent months.
According to Statistics Canada, there were about 61,000 people working in the Canadian airline industry as of 2017, the latest year that data is available. Collectively, the industry has now laid off nearly half of its entire workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has kept airplanes grounded on tarmacs at airports around the country.
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